We Were All Made for Connection
Written by : Melissa Helser
Cultivate Volume V is here and we are so excited to get it in your hands! This book is the first in a two-part series entitled: The Art of Connection, and is written with your most significant relationships in mind. As we release this book, we want to share the vision behind it with you. Here you'll find the introduction to Cultivate Volume V, written by Melissa Helser. In this introduction Melissa shares on the value of connection, what it means for our lives and why it is significant to us as eternal beings. As you read her words, we pray that you feel full of fresh inspiration to pursue deeper connection and motivation to show up for the ones who mean the most to you.
WE WERE ALL MADE FOR CONNECTION.
Connection simply means “to join two or more things, sometimes for the same cause, origin or goal.” Humanity is hardwired to need each other. From the beginning of time, God understood that it is not good for us to be alone. He reached inside the “man” He created and separated him into two. He essentially said that communion with Him is not enough, that He wants us to have fellowship with one another. He created us to need connection.
Connection takes time and work. It isn’t easy. It requires an understanding of self and others. It requires more than good theories. It demands practice in everyday life. Just when we think we’re done learning, another conflict or misunderstanding arises and we have to go the distance again.
Connection asks us to go beyond what is easy and comfortable, reach outside of our own tendencies and learn humanity.
Connection says that we are worth being loved, and so are our spouses, parents, children and friends. Connection is impossible if we remain rigid and unwilling to grow.
As of April 2018, I have been married eighteen years to a glorious introvert. I would definitely say that I am an extrovert and our kids are one of each. I have had to learn and grow. I have had to give in to asking questions, seeking to understand myself and the people I love the most. I have twenty staff, each one different in personality, story and life experience. I have had to give in to knowing them and loving them beyond what is easy for me. Connection says, “I am willing to be wrong and seek to understand. I am willing to learn a new way in order to really know you. I am willing to lay down ‘my way’ in order to communicate value to your heart.”
In the last seven years, Jonathan and I have fallen in love with emotional health. We, along with our whole staff, have given in to the deep process of growth and the brutal honesty with self that emotional health requires. We have humbled our hearts to receive from teachers unlike ourselves. We have read and re-read, and we have practiced…A LOT. We have practiced Mark 12:30 over and over: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’”(NIV). We have chosen to fall into the arms of a loving Father in tension, and we have fought for beautiful confrontation and resolve, encouragement and celebration. The fruit of this practice is the Cageless Birds community. Many people have asked us to write a book on community, but instead we have decided to reflect on healthy connection because that is what creates a powerful community.
A friend once said to Jonathan and me, “Don’t try to reproduce your model. You can only reproduce values. Figure out what your values really are.”
We took that to heart and have spent the last seven years pressing into our value system, not just so we can run great schools and do fruitful ministry, but so that we can thrive in the 95% of life: in our marriage, in parenthood, as friends and as co-laborers in the Kingdom.
In Volume V we chose to focus on the immediate family: parents, spouses, children. Jonathan and I have given our lives to walking out a healthy marriage, raising our children led by the Holy Spirit and discipling young adults to do the same. We couldn’t talk about Kingdom family without talking about what we’ve invested in our immediate family. Each person in Kingdom family has a unique story and a powerful opportunity to transform his or her legacy. We work out our salvation by loving God, loving ourselves and loving people. In Volume VI we will venture into the conversation about Kingdom family, but we want to begin this conversation by addressing some of the most foundational relationships in many of our lives.
We recognize that not every section of this book will directly relate to the season of life that every person is in. Not everyone is in a season of dating, and not everyone is married. Many don’t have children, and others have lost parents. Regardless of the season you are in, our hope is that this volume will inspire you to open up both your history and your future to the Lord. You are a significant placeholder in your lineage, and it is vital that you open up dialogue about what it looks like for you to affect your immediate family.
This volume is meant to give testimony of real people failing and learning and leaning into the Holy Spirit for help. It is not a compilation of articles and interviews with perfect people; better yet, it is a collection of words and stories and imagery from people yielded to the process. We pray you feel inspired, challenged, liberated. And mostly that you feel permission to pursue the hard work of connection—that through it all, in both the big and the small moments, life would become beautiful.